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8 common side-effects of contraceptives

Birth control methods help to avoid unwanted pregnancies. But they can mess with your body too. Before you choose a new method, consider these side-effects wisely.


  1. Menstrual changes, cramping, and spotting

    Birth control methods start affecting your menstrual cycle. So it’s no surprise that the most common side effects revolve around changes in periods. Many things can change when you start with a new method. Your period can get heavier or lighter, or you may have some unexpected spotting.

    Premenstrual syndrome may go away; or, unfortunately, get worse and you can be moodier than usual. You may also feel more cramping than before. Many of these side effects are normal and will ease with time. Quite a few methods are known for causing trouble in the period department, especially the pill, E-pills, IUDs and injectables (Depo-Provera).

  2. Headaches

    If you have splitting headaches and you are not sure why, your birth control method could be to blame. Especially if you have started using it recently. Common culprits for headaches are the pill, E-pills and hormonal IUDs. Headaches caused by contraception often disappear over time. However sometimes, the pill can even relieve your existing headaches.

  3. Nausea

    It’s unfair, isn’t it? You use birth control methods to avoid pregnancies and morning sickness and you still get nauseous. Hormonal methods are to blame for this one, the pill and E-pills in particular, but also the implant.

    Just like with many other symptoms, nausea will usually get better and go away within the first few weeks. Try taking the pill after a light meal and not on an empty stomach. See if this improves your symptoms.

  4. Allergies

    If you or your partner feel itchy and scratchy every time you use a condom, you could be allergic to latex. If that’s the case, try latex-free condoms. If you are allergic to any of the components in other methods, like the pill, things can get quite scary and dangerous. If you have allergies to certain medications, please tell your doctor before deciding on a new birth control method.

  5. Skin changes

    When using contraception, you may notice changes in your skin, both good and bad. Implants, for example, can cause acne while certain types of the pill can help a lot with clearing up any skin issues. If you have had skin problems in the past, it is a good idea to take this into consideration.

  6. Weight changes

    It’s a myth that all birth control methods lead to weight gain. But unfortunately, quite a few women do gain weight when they start using a new method. For some women, this weight may disappear as effortlessly as it came. While for others, it will take considerable effort to go back to their normal weight. Methods most known for weight gain are pills and injectables.

  7. Pregnancies

    Yes, you read that right! A common adverse effect of the more unreliable methods, like the pull out method or natural methods, is pregnancy. They are difficult to use correctly. Errors can happen and quite a few women do get pregnant.

  8. Vaginal irritation and discharge

    Diaphragm and sponges, as well as spermicides, can cause redness, itchiness, and irritation around the vagina. Especially if they are left in for too long. Even changes in discharge are possible.

    Generally, these symptoms should go away as soon as you remove the diaphragm or sponge, or stop using spermicides, but you might want to use another method if this happens more often.

Other less common side-effects:

  • The pill is to blame for a number of other possible side-effects, like chloasma (dark patches of skin on your face) dizziness and breast tenderness. IUDs come with a risk of expulsion, implants can get lost or have tissue around them, and sterilisation can cause psychological issues, mainly related to doubts about having made the right decision.

Disclaimer: These are general side-effects. In some cases, there are more severe reactions that can cause considerable health issues. If you suspect your contraception method is causing you problems, please consult your doctor.

Source: Zieman, M. & Hatcher R. (2012): Managing Contraception. Bridging the Gap Foundation.


Have you experienced any side-effects with your birth control method? Share your concerns on our discussion board or Facebook. You can also drop us a note below. 

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Recent Comments (61)

  1. Tanx you so much, but which
    Tanx you so much, but which one of this is the better method to use since am planning to get one done

  2. Is there injectorplan for
    Is there injectorplan for stleast ayear?

  3. i used injecterplan bt my
    i used injecterplan bt my discharge is bloodish every day.How do i treat it?

    1. HI Eve,

      HI Eve,

      If its your first time there is nothing wrong with that and its normal. It will go back to normal in several months.

      1. Which is the best method en…
        Which is the best method en the one that will nt gain wait

  4. hey if yu use e pills on 2nd
    hey if yu use e pills on 2nd day after unprtectd sex n unfortunately the same day later u hve un sex is there need to get other pills or the previous one will hve the same effect???

    1. There is no limit as to how
      There is no limit as to how many times you can use the emergency-pill in a year. However, the e-pill does have short-term side effects that mean it should not be used as a normal form of contraception, but only in case of emergency.

      Read more here .

  5. I am using the injecterplan
    I am using the injecterplan for 3months…this is my 2nd month since i started using it.i want to stop using long will i take to go back to normal and are there effects that will come along?

    1. (No subject)
      Hey Leaxy,

      It may take a sometime before your periods resume normalcy particularly if your periods are usually regular. This is the major side effect you can expect after you stop. Anything else outside of what you expect you should consider visiting a medical centre.

      1. Like for how long will it …
        Like for how long will it
        Go back to normal…so I can
        Start given birth

        1. Hi, because a lot of female…

          Hi, because a lot of female contraception is hormone-based, it takes between two and six months to clear the hormone out.

  6. I used the E- pill and i…
    I used the E- pill and i exprienced the spotting,cramping n also i havent received my periods can i be pregnant

  7. I had sex but was unable to…
    I had sex but was unable to purchase the pill, though he said he did not released but a little drop might results to something, please what can i take to avoid pregnancy

  8. Tell me hw to use pills…
    Tell me hw to use pills effective am confused

    1. (No subject)
      Hey Shalo,

      Visit a medical centre where you will well advised on the use of the pills.

  9. I’m using condoms but y is t…
    I’m using condoms but y is t that I feel a burning irritation in my wiiwi d

    1. Hey Linda,…
      Hey Linda,

      The burning sensation could mean different things including a Urinary Track Infection. It maybe helpful to visit a medical centre for a check and treatment.

  10. I used a 3 month injection 2…
    I used a 3 month injection 2 times that’s now 3 years in marriage trying to get pregnant but all in vain.what should I do please

    1. Lucy, You need to visit a…
      Lucy, You need to visit a Specialist for a check up. Using the injection is safe and is not expected to stop you from getting pregnant when you stop using it.

  11. I have been usx the implant…
    I have been usx the implant for 3yrs now and just this year am have put on wait too much and am gettx shapeless some people told me to remove the implant that my obesity is been caused by it.

    1. Hi Cindy, Yes the Implant…
      Hi Cindy, Yes the Implant can cause weight gain. If this has only happened recently think about your lifestyle to see whether it is entire the implant or some lifestyle changes. Also do talk to your Doctor for other options should you choose to have it removed.

  12. I had my first shot of…
    I had my first shot of injection last month, I’m currently experiencing prolonged periods, 11 days later and I’m still bleeding. Please help

    1. Hi Susan, You need to…
      Hi Susan, You need to discuss with your medical provider or Gynecologist who may provide you with treatment to manage this. If it is too problematic then you may have to change to another method altogether.

  13. Have used injec for six yrs…
    Have used injec for six yrs and now I needs a baby a was bleeding not normal after I stop injection den I use steron tabs to stop the bleeding help me

    1. Hi Eva, It is expected as a…
      Hi Eva, It is expected as a side effect that normal menstrual cycle won’t return in some for more than an year after stopping the injection. It is important you consult your medical provider or Gynecologist for advice as opposed to self medicating.

  14. Hi I used injection just…
    Hi I used injection just once had a lot of headache n backache I stopped everything went back to normal am just but afraid of advice am now at withdraw still working.

  15. ihav been using a…
    ihav been using a contraceptive implant for three years,n ihav thru sometyms i miss my period it changes da dates,wth backache pains,so i decided to remove the implant and now im experiencing viginal discharge like white whitish whch problem iam undergoing plz help??

  16. Am using oral contraceptives…
    Am using oral contraceptives as directed by a doctor due to cyst…i want to get paged soon after the dose…is it possible in a month’s time

    1. Hey Lucy, It is not possible…
      Hey Lucy, It is not possible to predict how soon you will get pregnant after getting off the pill. When you stop taking the pill it can take one or two months before your period cycle returns to normal within which period you can also get pregnant.

  17. Hey,,,,i used condom en 2 my…
    Hey,,,,i used condom en 2 my surpise i waz pregnant do they burst

  18. I am using implant but…
    I am using implant but consiering it to b removed next week. When and how soon do I start new method

    1. Hi Ummu, you should be able…
      Hi Ummu, you should be able to start immediately. I suggest though that you talk to your medical provider who will be able to advice you also considering what method you are choosing to switch to.

  19. Am using depo but its making…
    Am using depo but its making me gain wait wat will I do

    1. Hi Vince, this is one of the…
      Hi Vince, this is one of the common side effects the comes with the use of such birth control. If this weight gain is not welcome consider switching to a different method.

  20. For the first time in my…
    For the first time in my life I used the interjection for three months end after one month i experienced my menstral cycle end ever since I have been having that flow till now as wea speaking

    1. Hi Pretty, bleeding…
      Hi Pretty, bleeding continuously is not normal. Visit a medical centre for a check up.

  21. I had xex on xunday afte &…
    I had xex on xunday afte & took postina on Monday mrning. I am safe?

    1. Hi There, the Emergency…

      Hi There, the Emergency Contraception pill works when taken within the first 72 hours after having unprotected sex. The pill is most effective when taken within the first 24 hours. However it does have a failure rate depending on when one takes the pill. The longer it takes for one to take the pill the less effective it is likely to be. Check out the following article for more information;-

  22. I was implanted an …
    I was implanted an implanon since January this year and i have not seen my periods….. It’s for 3yrs now when i remove it will i get pregnant soon??

    1. Hello Lucy, Implanon can…

      Hello Lucy, Implanon can help cut down on period cramps. It also makes your period way lighter. In some people they stop getting their period at all. Implant does not affect your fertility, in fact, it’s possible to get pregnant as soon as your implant is out. Check out this article for more information:

    1. You are very welcome. 

      You are very welcome. 

  23. How do you know that a…
    How do you know that a method will affect your weight? As in are there women who are likely to gain weight?

    1. Hi Jael, unfortunately there…

      Hi Jael, unfortunately there is no way to know this before hand. There are no specific women who are likely to have weight changes when they begin to use a birth control method. If this is a major issue of concern for you, you may have to choose a different method. 

  24. Can it also make your vagina…
    Can it also make your vagina to be dry during sex?

  25. Can this method affect Aman?
    Can this method affect Aman?

    1. Hey Eli. Not really, it won…

      Hey Eli. Not really, it won’t.

  26. Thank you for the…
    Thank you for the informative article. I worry about the weight gain, so far so good though.

    1. Hey Janet, not everyone will…

      Hey Janet, not everyone will gain weight. We wish you all the best.

  27. At the beginning I use to…
    At the beginning I use to diarrhea I almost stopped it.

    1. We hope things are better…

      We hope things are better now Lillian.

  28. This is very informative for…
    This is very informative for us men to understand our women.

    1. You are welcome Chosen.

      You are welcome Chosen.

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